Meet the agents: Toronto Storeys talks to the Condo Chicks
Lorena Magallanes and Erica Smith met just over 10 years ago while selling pre-construction condos in Toronto. The two hit it off and built Stomp Realty Inc. Brokerage together as Toronto’s boutique urban real estate firm, with a focus on innovative marketing techniques through social media.
Together they are known as The Condo Chicks and with a team mostly populated by strong, empowered women, dogged negotiation skills that come from their Italian and Argentinean backgrounds and a focus on building client relationships for life, they relish in being great matchmakers — matching their clients to their ideal homes.
Recently, we asked them to give us some insight into what it takes to provide the full-package “Realtor Experience.” Here is their collective response.
What initially attracted you to real estate?
Our passion for Toronto and people. They go hand-in-hand. Who wouldn’t want to sell the New York City of Canada? We love showing people what Toronto really has to offer. This is what drives us. For us, selling Toronto is like matchmaking. It’s our job to find “true love” between a home and a buyer.
What do clients most commonly misunderstand when working with a realtor to buy or sell their house?
The most common misconception prior to having a “Realtor Experience,” as we like to call it, is that our job is easy. It takes a lot of work to represent both buyers and sellers if you’re doing your job properly. This statement carries even more weight in Toronto’s current hot market. Sellers think it’s very easy to sell without having to put any effort into their home, while buyers struggle with competing in a strong seller’s market. We always remind our clients to never rely on the current market to sell. It still takes time and effort to market homes properly in order to generate the greatest return.
What issues or innovations are you seeing that will have a profound effect on your industry in the future?
Technology. It is forever changing the way that real estate is done. We are seeing more and more people buy their homes without even physically seeing them. This is especially more apparent in Toronto’s hot market. With prices rising steadily and inventory low, at times buyers are forced to purchase without viewing the property. Technology today makes it so buyers can see everything they need to in a home and feel comfortable enough to move forward with a purchase.
What does it take to be a top producer in your industry?
Simple. Honesty, hard work and dedication. If you’re not prepared to dedicate yourself to your clients and work hard, don’t expect to be a top producer.
If you weren’t real estate agents, what would you be?
It’s hard for us to envision ourselves doing anything other than selling real estate, as we have been in the industry for a long time. However, Erica would probably be running fitness boot camp classes and Lorena would be attending them.
What is Toronto’s most overrated or over-priced neighborhood?
What we have been seeing in the Toronto real estate market the past few years is that inventory is very low, while the demand is very high. It’s hard to say a specific neighbourhood is overrated or over-priced as different buyers gravitate to different parts of the city. Buyers are not scared to pay a premium for the neighborhood they want to be in.
What do you love most about what you do?
We love the matchmaking process. Matching great people with great homes is what it’s all about for us. We meet different people every day and see different homes every day. Our workday is never the same.
What annoys you about what you do?
When we are negotiating with another realtor and they are more concerned with “getting the deal done” than taking care of the best interests of their clients. Unfortunately, we see this all too often in the industry. A lot of realtors get into the industry with the pre-conception that it’s “easy money,” and sales are very “transactional.”
What is your greatest contribution as a realtor?
There have been a large number of new realtors getting into the industry. Our greatest contribution to the industry is growing The Condo Chicks team to be a solid group of educated, successful and confident realtors selling Toronto. We are firm believers in quality over quantity.
What is your best advice for those buying or selling in a competitive market?
Both buyers and sellers have to be aware that the market is very competitive and must prepare themselves accordingly. Buyers have to have a clear understanding of what it’s going to take to get them in the market. Currently, we are in a very strong seller’s market and buyers have to educate themselves on exactly what’s entailed in securing a property in Toronto. For example, prices are rising steadily on a daily basis and selling prices are much higher than the original listing price. This alone can be hard for buyers who are looking to negotiate and take their time selecting a property. On the flip side, sellers can’t take advantage of the market by just putting their home up for sale without a plan of action. It’s still important to prepare the property to showcase at its best, in order to ensure that it sells.
Do you believe in the idea of a real estate bubble, and how do you deal with it?
In Toronto we do not anticipate a real estate bubble (despite the recent news headlines). What people are forgetting is that Toronto is still very affordable compared to other North American cities. It has been a very underrated city for the past 10 years and it’s gaining international attention as a city that offers so much opportunity. With interest rates at a low, and large numbers of people relocating to the city, the demand for housing is high and unfortunately the supply is not.
How do you stay successful in this business without alienating friends and family or neglecting your own needs?
We are both fortunate to have very supportive family and friends. Without their support, we wouldn’t be where we are today. That being said, it’s important to always carve out time for those closest to us.